Hummingbirds

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Archilochus colubris 
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are our most common and expected hummingbird species. There are a very few that remain through the winter, and they really start arriving in numbers in the early spring (mid-March). Aside from feeders, they can be found on leisurely walks at places like Reddie Point Preserve, Sheffield Park, Hanna Park, and Fort George Island. There is usually at least one that hangs out around the garden at Kingsley Plantation. The first documented record of the species dates to 13 April 1940 (Stevenson & Anderson, 1994).

Black-chinned Hummingbird Archilochus alexandri
Black-chinned Hummingbirds are very rare in county and should not be expected in any year, but I would scrutinize any winter hummingbird reported as Ruby-throated to ensure it isn’t a Black-chinned. The earliest report I’ve been able to find is from 12-13 January 1974, which Stevenson (1974) noted as the third state record. The next report is from 6-7 April 1989, a bird Langridge (1989) reported as visiting a feeder. Rex Rowan observed one at Hugh and Angie Tyner’s house on 21 November 1992 (R. Rowan, pers. communication, 2016). On 2 January 1994 an immature male was reported coming to a feeder (West, Wamer, & Pranty, 1994); the only other report is from 7 January 1996 (Smith).

Rufous Hummingbird Selasphorus rufus
Rufous Hummingbirds undoubtedly occur annually in the county at private residences, but they are rarely widely reported in the birding community. In the winter of 2013-2014, at least two were photographed and reported in different areas of the county. The earliest county records I’ve been able to find are from 29 November 1971, 12-13 January 1974, and 18-19 September 1975 (Conway & Drennan, 1979). The 1975 bird was noted as Florida’s then record second earliest fall arrival (Edscorn, 1976).

Other known reports are from 2-9 December 1978 (Stevenson, 1981), 17 December – 15 January 1981, March to April 1996 (Langridge, 1996), and 6 October 1996 (Wamer, 1997).

Calliope Hummingbird Selasphorus calliope
The first state record for this species comes from Duval County and thus represents the first County record as well. The bird was recorded from 20 December 1995 through 27 January 1996 (West, 1996).

In February 2007, Peggy Powell hosted a Calliope Hummingbird at her feeder. The bird remained for many days and allowed for easy viewing by anyone who went to see the bird. The previous year, one was reported coming to another private feeder on 7 January 2006.

Broad-billed Hummingbird Cynanthus latirostris 
On 16 January 2008, a Broad-billed Hummingbird arrived at a private residence on the westside of Jacksonville and remained until 21 February despite being trapped, handled, and banded. It was identified as a second year male and provided the third state record of the species for Florida.

Alcids

Dovekie Alle alle
In 1932, and again in the winter of 1936-37 there was a remarkable invasion of Dovekie along the Florida coast that was well documented by Alexander Sprunt, Jr. (1938). Sprunt made note of the eastern seaboard’s curvature along Florida’s “First Coast” whereby it juts back east just south of Jacksonville, suggesting that many of the Dovekies in Florida waters missed that pocket (which happens to be offshore Duval County) on their way further south. He also noted that many Dovekie observations occurred in Daytona Beach during these invasions, and Sam Grimes reported a distinct lack of records from the mouth of the St. Johns River in Jacksonville. Regardless, it is evident that Dovekies passed through Duval County in great numbers and there were several observations noted during these invasions.

In 1945, Grimes (1945, p.22) documented shooting a lone Dovekie on 29 November 1932 as it swam in a flooded ditch in Jacksonville Beach. On 7 February 1965, three were reported off Jacksonville Beach; Stevenson (1965) noted this was the first time the species had ever been reported in Florida outside the month of January. Most recently during the Razorbill invasion in the winter of 2012, a single Dovekie was found in distress and taken to BEAKS for rehabilitation; its fate is unknown.

Thick-billed Murre Uria lomvia
There is one record of Thick-billed Murre in Duval County. This bird was photographed in Simpson’s Creek between Big Talbot Island and Little Talbot Island on 15 December 2012 during the Razorbill invasion. It was thought to be a Razorbill by the observer and submitted to the Florida Ornithological Society Records Committee, where they determined it to be a Thick-billed Murre (both of these Alcids are a state review species).

It is also worth noting that one day earlier on 14 December 2012, one was photographed at Fort Clinch State Park in Nassau County.

Razorbill Alca torda
It already seems like a long time ago, but in the winter of 2012 there was a significant Razorbill invasion throughout Florida’s coastal waters, eventually even reaching the western panhandle. The first accepted record for the county occurred on 15 December 2012, by the same observer of the Thick-billed Murre.

I was able to make it out on the water on 17 December 2012 and several subsequent days, taking along friends like Rex Rowan on the journey. We found anywhere from five to twelve individual Razorbills each time, while staying mainly within a mile of shore, as far north as Little Talbot Island and as far south as Hanna Park in my Carolina Skiff. They seemed to favor “slicks” around the jetties, extending at about a forty-five degree angle to the southeast. The lines consisted loosely of wrack and sargassum. I can’t recall now if my memory serves, but I believe Rex and I collected at least one expired bird in perfect condition, which he would’ve taken back to the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Razorbills. Just south of the Mayport Jetties about half-mile offshore of NAS Mayport / Hanna Park.18 Dec 2012.

On 1 January 2013, I arrived at Huguenot Memorial Park at sunrise and observed a single Razorbill about thirty yards out in the surf on the north side of the jetties. That was the last one I have seen and the last credible report in the county.

Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica 
On 1 October 1998, an Atlantic Puffin was collected at a local Jacksonville beach and taken to BEAKS for rehabilitation, where it unfortunately died about nine days later (Pranty, 1999). It was the second Florida record for the species, and the one and only county report.

16th Ave S

Parking: Free. There are about 20 paved parking places including 2 handicapped spots at the end of 16th Avenue South, where it terminates into the beach access.

Trails: There are no trails but rather direct access to the wide Jacksonville Beach of the Atlantic Ocean.

Facilities: There are public restroom facilities at Huguenot Park one block to the west. This should not be confused with Huguenot Memorial Park, which is a premier birding destination in north Jacksonville. This Huguenot Park is a small city park in Jacksonville Beach consisting of a 3 acre pond and tennis courts.

The Dailey Birder’s Tips: Bring a scope as this is a seawatch destination. It’ll be difficult to pick anything else out with just binoculars, but you would be able to add Rock Pigeon and Laughing Gull.

Target Species: Northern Gannet, Greater Scaup, Lesser Scaup, Black Scoter, White-winged Scoter, Surf Scoter, Red-throated Loon, Common Loon, Horned Grebe, Bonaparte’s Gull, Parasitic Jaeger, Pomarine Jaeger, Long-tailed Jaeger.

About: The end of 16th Avenue South in Jacksonville Beach was put on the birding map by the late Noel Wamer in the late 1990’s and through the mid 2000’s. Beginning in mid-October through the end of January, Noel performed countless daily seawatches over the years from this location and reported his observations to the FL Birds listserv. He had some remarkable daily and seasonal totals over the years, including hundreds of Red-throated Loons and several Long-tailed Jaegers. This location is a perfect combination of oceanic conditions and a tall condominium to provide a wind-break for scanning the ocean, and we should always remember this as Noel’s spot.

Birding Strategy:
Anytime from October 15th through mid-February, arrive in the early morning while migrating seabirds and waterfowl are most active and scan the ocean. Use the nearby buildings as a wind break, if necessary. After scouring dozens of Noel’s reports, my assessment is many of his peak observations came between 9 and 10 AM. Another pattern seems to be the Jaegers show up the last few days of October, and often Pomarine outnumber Parasitic here, which is especially unusual from shoreline observations.